By ANDREW SELSKY
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A far-right senator who has rebelled against coronavirus restrictions and supported protesters who stormed the Oregon Capitol has been elected chairman of the state Republican Party, showing how the GOP is taking a harder-line shift in some states and continuing to support former President Donald Trump.
The ascendancy of state Sen. Dallas Heard reflects the bitter frustration felt by Republicans in Oregon, where Democrats dominate the Legislature, governor’s office and other statewide offices.
Some even want their rural, conservative counties to become part of neighboring Idaho, where the GOP is dominant.
But the move further right has alienated some, including one of Oregon’s most prominent Republicans, Knute Buehler, a former lawmaker who left the GOP in disgust and became unaffiliated with any party.
Buehler, who was the Republican nominee for governor in 2018 and for a congressional seat last year, told reporters that he left because Trump tried to overturn the presidential election and incited the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The final straw, Buehler said, came when the Oregon Republican Party said the violence at the U.S. Capitol was a “false flag effort” designed to discredit Trump, his supporters and all conservative Republicans.